March 2, 2015

invisibility...

These feelings come and go, but last month they weighed rather heavily on me. It's not that anything in my life really changed, or I had some extraordinary lack of support, or that I was just being generally overly-emotional about the whole thing…there's no rhyme or reason to it, but sometimes there's no other word to describe how I feel than: invisible.

I know the work I do every single day is important, needed, appreciated. But sometimes it's really hard to get a handle on these feelings when almost everything I do happen to be the things that, well, have to get done. Things that aren't even worthy of praise or admiration. They're actually pretty boring and mundane…the day-to-day checklist that includes housework, preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen, weekly errands, heading to the laundromat for a couple hours each week, playing with (and cleaning up after) Eisley, tidying the duplex every evening before bed, and other such things. Add to that the other generally unseen things that I manage to do, like being intentional with my time spent with Eisley, meal planning, clipping coupons (and being entirely too strategic about grocery shopping), being as smart with our budget as I possibly can, and finding ways to bring in a bit of additional income here and there.

So, yes. I'm aware of how much I do. I am proud (and thankful) to be able to be a full-time mama and homemaker. But there are still days that it is just a struggle. When it comes down to it, these are the things I do for a living. This is my job, my calling, my joy. But there's something about living in this day and age that makes it a little difficult to live a life and give all you have to something that doesn't bring in a paycheck, that doesn't bring any outward praise (or, at times, even acknowledgement by anyone else), that has more to do with giving so much of yourself without getting something in return.

It's a lesson in humility that I tend to fail at more than I succeed.

I sometimes try to put all of this into words for my husband, but I know it never comes out quite right. And I know that there's no way he'll ever fully understand what life looks (or feels) like from my view. At this point in life, I know that words of affirmation are what matter most to me, and I try to tell him how much it means to me when he even says something as simple as, "Dinner was good! Thanks!" Because nobody was there to see me plan the menu for the week, or grocery shop for the items that it took to make that meal, or prepare all the elements of that meal with a 3 year old who was intent on spilling noodles all over the floor while asking me to help her change into three different princess dresses within the span of 20 minutes. Hearing that simple thank you is like a breath of fresh air.

Okay. He sees me. He doesn't have to see all I do, but I'm appreciated.

I remember when I was first at home full-time with Eisley, and Jay would walk in the door after a long day at work, innocently asking a simple question: "So, what did you guys do today?"

I hated that question. It felt like an accusation, even though my rational mind knew it wasn't. I didn't marry someone who would ever look at me suspiciously, as though I hadn't earned my keep for the day because the house was a wreck and I hadn't washed my hair in four days. (Shout-out to dry shampoo, by the way.) But, still, whenever he asked me what I had done, I felt like I had to scramble to name off a bunch of things that made my day sound as productive and legitimate as his. It was an awful pressure—so ridiculous and unnecessary, especially in those first years of motherhood.

There are still days (weeks, months) I have a hard time giving myself enough credit, and fight selfish thoughts that try to convince me I'm unappreciated and deserve that pat on the back for what I do every day. There are evenings I sit on the couch after a full day of handling the minutiae of motherhood and home life, only to feel a bit like an elf who magically gets things done without ever being seen.

Well, an elf who still has a dirty fridge and a bedroom closet packed with so many things that it has become slightly terrifying.

But I'm working through it all, and know I'm definitely not alone in this struggle. Even those of us who always planned for a home life and knew this is what we wanted and hoped for…that doesn't mean every day will be fulfilling or accomplished or beautiful. I don't question whether this is where I belong, but I do question my ability to do it all with the right outlook and attitude.

A couple weeks ago, I was having one of those overwhelming days where I felt worn to bits and out of energy. Then Eisley walked up to the kitchen table, where I was sitting, trying to figure out what to tackle next. She climbed up in my lap, put her arm around my shoulder, patted my back and said sweetly, "Mommy, you're a good one." Both Jay and I have used the phrase "good one" with each other and with Eisley for years—it's just one of those silly things we say out of the blue.

But truly, a perfectly-timed compliment and snuggle from a 3-year-old sometimes has more power than anything else in the world. Who knew?

Further reading: Becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom

February 28, 2015

things that made me swoon in February...

February swoonage | yourwishcake.com
I kind of skipped January, but I'm back this month to share a few of my favorite things! (Eisley's current refusal to nap has thrown a wrench in my blogging groove. And my getting-anything-else-done-groove. Ah, well…this too shall pass…or not…speaking of which, where are those Girl Scout cookies again?)

In any case, here are some things that had me swooning this month:

1. Amy Knapp's Family Organizer — I know it seems a little late in the year to be waxing poetic on a daily planner, but bear with me! There may be some of you who have yet to pick up something decent for the year ahead, and I just love this one (which was a gift from my mom!). I love that it has enough room to write down everything I need for every day, along with a tear-out grocery list, a to-do list, and a section for your menu plan for each week. It has a nice, simple design and includes so many things without feeling cluttered at all. And it's less than $12 on Amazon. Perfection!

2. The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle — I really wish that Melanie would just write a dozen other books, because between this one and the other I have read, I'm sufficiently in love with her style of writing. (And her, probably.) She is so relatable and hilarious, and her thoughts on marriage were so refreshingly honest. Exactly what I needed to read right now (especially considering Jay and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary!). I think that if you're past the newlywed point of marriage, you'd adore this book just as much as I did.

3. Physician's Formula Organic Wear CC Cream — I'd love to slowly transition over to more natural beauty products, but many I've found are just so far out of my budget that it's a little ridiculous. A sweet friend recommended I try this CC Cream, which is less than $10 and easily purchased from almost any local store or online retailer. I picked it up for free from Amazon (thanks to good ol' Swagbucks!) and have been using it daily for the past couple weeks. It is a bit thicker than other BB creams I've used, and the scent is less appealing when I'm putting it on—but these are things I'm willing to overlook based on the fact that it is organic and works so well. It lasts perfectly all day long, covers my skin without being too thick, and looks flawless when covered with a bit of pressed powder. I think I've found a new go-to product!

4. Chopped — This show is one of the only ones I mourned the loss of (in addition to Sister Wives and Snapped…clearly, I love me some quality, educational programming) once we stopped paying for fancy TV. Needless to say, when I saw it was available on Netflix, I did a bit of a happy dance and decided it would be my new end-of-the-day guilty pleasure. It's a very unique show, as far as food competitions, and thoroughly entertaining. (Even though I'm fairly sure the judges have consumed an unhealthy amount of blood, sweat and tears by the end of each episode. Just watch, and you'll see what I mean.)

5. Library Lion — This book was a random one we picked up from the library, but it is by far my favorite of the many, many, many we've checked out in the past few months. The illustrations are gorgeous (they remind me of classic children's books) and the story is very clever. I wasn't sure it would hold Eisley's attention, given there is a lot more dialogue in the book as compared to most books aimed at children her age, but she loved it. This is one I will keep in mind for gift-giving, for sure. It's one I'd love to have on our own bookshelf, too!

— Further reading: What made me swoon one year ago

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here.

February 27, 2015

we're having a...

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Well, it's official, folks. On Monday, Jay and I learned we will soon be the proud parents of another darling girl! Eisley is getting a sister, and we kind of can't believe it.

I think that Eisley is the only person who had guessed girl instead of boy—and I especially was expecting to see some, shall we say, business on the ultrasound, mostly because this pregnancy has felt so different than the first. But when the tech did the big reveal, she said, "Well, there's nothing there." For a hot second I was actually thinking something was wrong with our son and he was missing some very necessary parts, but then it dawned on me: Oh, wait. Does that mean…it's a girl? SERIOUSLY? Jay and I smiled at each other from across the room, and were both in a happy-sort-of-shock. Eisley, of course, was over the moon. I know she would have been thrilled with either a brother or a sister (as we would have been so blessed to have either!), but I know firsthand that there's just something special about sisters. I'm kind of excited that we get to give her that experience, too.

Sisters, sisters! Sing it with me!

And I tell you, I couldn't possibly be more grateful for this gift of another precious child. So, so thankful.

Further reading: Eisley's gender reveal